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Curiouser and curiouser

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IS fighters in Anbar, Iraq.
(Public domain via Wikipedia.)

Sen. Ted Cruz is enough to grok before the second cup of coffee, but this may take some espresso:

A Philadelphia woman was arrested Friday on charges she tried to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, a day after two women in New York City were charged with plotting to build a bomb and use it for a Boston Marathon-type attack.

Keonna Thomas, 30, was preparing to travel overseas to fight with the armed group and hoped to make it to Syria, authorities said. Instead, she was arrested at her home, which has three small U.S. flags adorning the porch. If convicted, she could face 15 years in prison.

This woman’s arrest comes on the heels of the two New York women arrested Thursday:

“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez, of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

The justice department said the two women have plotted to build an explosive device since at least August of last year and studied chemistry and electricity.

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Categories : International, News
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Obama rocks Cleveland

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We know Cleveland rocks. But on Wednesday, President Obama visited Cleveland to rock back.

For an infuriatingly long time, he’s been loathe to toot his own horn and play offense when that’s just what fellow Democrats needed him to do in 2010 and 2014. Where’ve you been Barack? [news quote extended, bolded]:

“It was one thing for them to argue against Obamacare before it was put in place,” Obama, using the nickname for his signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, said during an afternoon address to the City Club of Cleveland.

“Every prediction they made about it turned out to be wrong. It’s working better than even I expected. But it doesn’t matter. Evidence be damned. It’s still a disaster. Well, why?”

“The truth is, the budget they’re putting forward and the theories they’re putting forward are a path to prosperity for those who have already prospered.”

Good line. Obama ticked off a number of things his opponents got wrong. Got in Republicans’ faces about it even. And with a smile on his. That probably ticked off them too. It’s the sort of thing Democrats are way to reluctant to do. As Drew Westen says (okay, I’m paraphrasing), if the message isn’t pissing off your opponents, you’re not doing it right. They’ll be on the Sunday bobblehead shows any minute to wag their fingers and wring their hands over the president’s “angry” words and inappropriate swagger.

It’s not as if there isn’t a wealth of material to work from. Perhaps the only sour note in Cleveland was Obama’s continued support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact opposed by critics in his own party. We’ll leave that for another time.

Anyway, I sourced some of the president’s Cleveland material, maybe improved on it, and added a few peeves of my own. It’s the sort of thing I open carry on my smart phone for those “close encounters.”

Republicans said Barack Obama’s policies would produce “trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see.”
(Speaker John Boehner 04-18-09; NH Sen. Judd Gregg 03-17-10)

People believed them.

Instead, while the national debt did increase as it has every year since the Clinton budget surpluses, budget deficits shrank from $1.4 trillion when Obama took office to $483 billion in 2014.
(Washington Post 10-15-14)

Republicans said Obama’s “socialist policies” would increase the size “of our already bloated government,” lead us towards “national socialism,” and “the country’s economy is going to collapse.”
(NC Rep. Robert Pittenger 01-21-15; Kansas Sen. Pat Robert 09-24-14; Rush Limbaugh 09-10-12)

People believed them.

Instead, federal government employment has shrunk since January 2009, “corporate profits have nearly tripled” and the stock market doubled in six years.
(BLS 03-21-15; New Republic 08-04-14; 01-09-15; Google Finance)

Republicans said if Barack Obama was reelected, “gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”
(Utah Sen. Mike Lee 03-07-12)

People believed them.

Gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon in early 2015.
(Time 01-21-15)

Republicans said Obama’s policies would destroy “nearly 6 million jobs over the next decade” and lead to “diminishment of employment in America.”
(John McCain campaign 10-31-08; Texas Rep. Pete Sessions 11-07-09)

People believed them.

Instead, 12 million new jobs created, more under 6 years of Obama than under 12 years of two Bushes, “the best private sector jobs creation performance in American history [that] outperformed President Reagan’s in all commonly watched categories” according to Forbes.
(ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Forbes 09-05-14)

Meanwhile, “small-government, pro-business” George W. Bush presided over “the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt” and saw only 1.3 million net jobs created in 8 years (7 million net for Obama in 6 years). The Wall Street Journal called Bush’s “the worst track record on record.”
(Washington Times 10-19-08; ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Wall Street Journal 01-09-09)

Finally, for those with short memories:

Republicans said we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. We even knew where they were. We’d be out in six months, it would cost at most $60 billion, “We do not torture,” etc.

People believed them.

How much longer will people believe these guys?

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From DKos Asheville’s randallt:

Hi folks, we have exciting news. Daily Kos will be bringing a regional conference to Asheville on September 26th! Marcos and other DK staff will be in attendance and Asheville was chosen as the regional destination over Raleigh. DKos Asheville has been lobbying hard for this and today we got the news.

So please mark your calendars for September 26th. We are working with the Chamber to find the best venue for up to 500 guests and national speakers. Stay tuned!


Asheville, N.C. is the destination for September 26, 2015! DKos Asheville, the In-Real-Life group under the leadership ofrandallt, has been setting the example for other IRL groups across the nation regarding registering people to vote, getting out the vote, having a state open thread and setting up strategy conferences for their region. Because of this impressive leadership we’ve asked randallt to be the State Leader for all of North Carolina. We’ve got important work to do on the ground there and randallt has shown he’s the person to make that happen.

All states are welcome to attend this event and if you do you can expect to meet Markos Moulitsas in person, as well as some of the Daily Kos staff. More details regarding this regional event will be shared in the future so please stay tuned to Connect! Unite! Act!

For now, SAVE THE DATE and spread the word!


Categories : Action, Events, Local, News
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50 years later, it’s always something

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Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama. (photo, Library of Congress)

President Obama will speak in Selma, AL today to observe the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday voting rights march that began at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It will be streaming live here at noon EST (9 a.m. PST).

Even as civil rights groups gather at the bridge, a petition started by Student Unite has gathered 150,000 signatures from people who want the name Edmund Pettus removed from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, now a national landmark and part of the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail. It dawned on somebody that the name of a Civil War general and Alabama U.S. senator/Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon is “a symbol of oppression.” Really.

This is happening in Montgomery:

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would prevent clergy, officials and faith-based groups with religious objections to certain marriages from being forced to officiate them, or being sued over their refusal.

Although the legislation does not directly address the issue, same-sex marriage supporters said the bill would effectively give state officials and religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and food banks broad powers to deny services and benefits to same-sex couples.

This is also happening:

The ACLU of Alabama; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade to add all Alabama couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses as plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit in Mobile County, and to add all of the state’s probate judges who may enforce orders barring or resist rulings allowing same-sex marriage as defendants.

The groups also want Granade to issue an injunction that the probate judges “refrain from enforcing all Alabama laws and orders that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or that deny recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples.”


On Tuesday, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing the licenses, saying its powers to interpret the U.S. Constitution were equal to Granade’s. The seven-justice majority said that the bans did not violate the 14th Amendment, arguing that the laws did not target gay and lesbian couples and that the state had a legitimate interest in promoting traditional marriage.

And you thought it was some kind of article of faith that “government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.”

It’s always something.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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For Once It’s Not North Carolina

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From our Peach State neighbors:

‘Religious liberty’ bill passes during a bathroom break

On Monday, Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, had sat through an hour-long education committee meeting, followed by a 90-minute hearing on his no-knock-warrant bill. Assisted by a few bottles of water.

So after he quickly checked in with chairman Josh McKoon at his Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Fort made a dash for the bathroom. By the time he got back, S.B. 129, the stalled religious liberty bill authored by McKoon, had been pulled off the table and voted through by his committee. Which at the time, consisted only of Republicans.

I hear they are so very genteel in Georgia.

Categories : News, Republicans
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We have met the enemy …

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Vigil last night in Chapel Hill (Image via Twitter)

The shooting deaths in Chapel Hill, NC of three students sparked candlelight vigils last night:

Thousands gathered on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Wednesday night to pay tribute to three local students who were shot to death the night before.

Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her younger sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were killed on Tuesday evening in the couple’s apartment in a leafy suburb of Chapel Hill.

The hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter trended early on social media as users complained that media coverage of the shootings would have been greater had the shooter been Muslim instead of the victims. Coverage has since picked up from Sydney to London.

In an emotional press conference, the family of the victims called on federal authorities to investigate the “execution style” shootings as a hate crime (video) directed at the three for their faith.

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Twisted in Tacoma

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You know, in an alternate timeline we might chalk up this kind of attacker to congenital misogyny, inappropriate toilet training, or just being a horrifically twisted excuse for a human being:

Police in Tacoma were searching for a suspect who allegedly attacked a lesbian woman by stabbing her and writing homophobic slurs on her body.

It was late. She was looking for her lost dog.

“He ran up behind me and he said something like why don’t I sound like a boy, that I look like a boy,” she recalled. “And that’s when it started.”

“Are you a dyke?” she said the man asked. “God hates fags.”

Chris told Tacoma police that the man stabbed her in the breast, jaw, left forearm and left thigh with a pocketknife. Police said that the suspect then stripped away her clothes, and wrote “dyke” on her buttocks and back.

But in this timeline, we could just as easily blame the suspect’s religion and ask Congress to authorize airstrikes.

The terrorist is still at large.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : LGBT issues, News
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A simple matter of law, justice and dignity

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WE DO Campaign, Mobile, Alabama. January 2013

“This is a simple matter of law, justice and dignity,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of North Carolina-based Campaign for Southern Equality in a web statement. “Our fundamental hope is that LGBT people and families would be treated equal under the law and in the social fabric of the South,” she told the International Business Times.

Beach-Ferrara reacted to the refusal of some probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday to deny Alabama’s request to delay a federal judge’s ruling that green-lighted the marriages in Alabama. The court is set to rule later this year on whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage:

Many of the state’s 68 probate judges mounted their resistance to the federal decision at the urging of the firebrand chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore. He is best known for refusing more than a decade ago to comply with a court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court’s offices.

In Mobile, about 10 gay couples who had expected to be granted licenses first thing in the morning found the marriage-license window closed indefinitely.

Several legal scholars observed that Moore may be within his authority, technically, saying the injunction only prevents the state’s executive branch from enforcing Alabama’s same-sex marriage amendment:

In two memos, one on February 3 and the second on February 8, Moore wrote that probate judges aren’t bound by the injunctions. In the first memo, he said that probate judges aren’t required to defer to the district court’s reasoning—essentially leaving it up to them to decide. In the second, he changed his mind, and ordered probate judges to disobey it “to ensure the orderly administration of justice.”

“Roy Moore got it right,” wrote Florida law professor Howard Wasserman on the Prawfsblawg legal blog last week. “And without bigoted or anti-federal rhetoric.” Probate judges are not covered by the injunction, and Moore is within his rights as head of the judicial branch.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Thomas wrote, “I would have shown the people of Alabama the respect they deserve and preserved the status quo while the Court resolves this important constitutional question.”

I wonder if Thomas would have felt the same in 1963?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : LGBT issues, National, News
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Patsy Keever New Chair of NC Democratic Party

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WNCN: News, Weather, Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville

Asheville Citizen-Times:

Hundreds of party activists meeting in Chatham County elected 1st Vice Chair Patsy Keever of Asheville over four other candidates seeking to succeed chairman Randy Voller, who declined to seek a second two-year term. Keever received 369 votes from the 560 members on the State Executive Committee gathered in Pittsboro. Second place went to Marshall Adame of Jacksonville, a former congressional candidate, with 169 votes.

Raleigh News and Observer:

Keever, a former teacher, state House member and congressional candidate, won election to the two-year term handily. Adame was the next-highest vote-getter.

“So many people are ready for the Democratic Party to be strong, to be positive,” she said. “This is a new beginning for us, and people are excited.”

With Rep. Susan Fisher named deputy minority leader in the state House, Sen. Terry Van Duyn appointed minority whip in the state senate, and Patsy Keever elected state party chair, women from Buncombe County are poised to wield more influence over state Democrats than the party’s minority status might suggest. With Hillary Clinton a possible Democratic presidential candidate next year, with NC Gov. Pat McCrory — considered “the most vulnerable Republican incumbent on the gubernatorial map” — up for reelection, and with Sen. Richard Burr up for reelection as well as Democratic Council of State candidates (mostly women), North Carolina will be “ground zero” in 2016.

Going to work.

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Freedom to be jerks

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Image public domain via Wikipedia

The Kochs, the NRA, and Randians of the right treat the word freedom as a conversation stopper. (What, are you against freedom, commie? Game Over. We win.) But just as creating the T-party pushed the GOP so far right that party regulars now are stuck with trying to reign in the monster they created, turning freedom into a worship word may be backfiring too:

A Florida man set up a gun range in his front yard, but police said there’s not much they can do but keep an eye on him.

Other residents are livid that 21-year-old Joseph Carannate set up targets and plans to fire his 9mm handgun in his residential Saint Petersburg neighborhood, reported WFLA-TV.

“I don’t know if this idiot is going to start popping off rounds,” said resident Patrick Leary. “I’m furious.”

Yeah? Furious commie.

But since by law the Gunshine State prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights, freedom means fire at will. Freedom means telling the neighbors, hide in the basement with your young-uns if you don’t like it.

The recent fight over vaccines travels that same road, doesn’t it? The teaser headline on the front page of the Washington Post online grabbed me this morning. Gerson: Vaccines and our duty to our neighbors. Whaddya mean “duty to our neighbors,” commie? Free-DOM:

Resistance to vaccination on the left often reflects an obsession with purity. Vaccines are placed in the same mental category as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), DDT and gluten. But the problem with organic health care is that the “natural” rate of child mortality is unacceptably high. Organically raised children can get some very nasty ­diseases.

Opposition to vaccination on the right often reflects an obsession with liberty — in this case, freedom from intrusive state mandates. It has always struck me as odd that a parent would defend his or her children with a gun but leave them vulnerable to a microbe. Some conservatives get especially exercised when vaccination has anything to do with sex — as with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — on the questionable theory that teenagers are more likely to fornicate if they have a medical permission slip (or less likely to without it).

Whether you are blazing away in a suburban front yard, or putting neighbors’ children at risk by refusing to immunize yours, or publishing cartoons of Mohammed with intent to offend (France, I know), or strolling into the Burger King with your AR-15, or doing anything else arrogantly prick-ish, because freedom, maybe the radical individual thing has gotten out of hand. Doesn’t it seem, at long last, that our freedom fetish is turning us into a nation of jerks?

Michael Gerson dares use the phrase “common good”:

In all these matters, there is a balance between individual rights and the common good. This may sound commonplace. But some Americans seem to believe that the mere assertion of a right is sufficient to end a public argument. It is not, when the exercise of that right has unacceptable public consequences, or when the sum of likely choices is dangerous to a community.


(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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